Epistemology of aesthetics: facts, models and theories


Epistemology of aesthetics: facts, models and theories
IMéRA, Aix-Marseille University, 20th October 2016




Aesthetic knowledge is a fundamental dimension of the human culture and it has been crucial in the development of a scientific understanding of the natural world. However, a study of the anthropological meaning of aesthetic behaviours faces currently with countless problems. Philosophical aesthetics traditionally oscillates between a theory of knowledge and a theory of art. As a result, all attempts of conceptual framing of aesthetics have failed and so far, there isn’t anaccepted definition of aesthetic behaviour. Nevertheless, human sciences like archaeology, social anthropology, psychology or neurobiology adopt the aesthetic theories proposed in the occidental philosophical tradition in order to analyse the complexity of the aesthetic dimension. This fact causes several conceptual and epistemological problems for the scientific approach to aesthetic domain. What we need is an epistemology of aesthetics – a theory of how we know (and what we know about) the world through an aesthetic experience. The aim of the workshop is an epistemological clarification of the aesthetics as a mode of knowledge culturally diversified and anchored in our cognitive architecture: What is aesthetic knowledge? Which kind of epistemology for theaesthetic knowledge? What is the place of the knowledge through art? What lesson from the historical tie between aesthetic and scientific theory can be applied today?


The topic could be developed through the main categories of epistemology: fact, model and theory. Following are some topics we would like to approach:

Fact: What is an aesthetic fact? Is it a perceptual fact? Can we speak of the aesthetic facts in a descriptive way? What does it mean that aesthetic is an intrinsically normative notion? What is the epistemic object of aesthetics?

Model: Could we model aesthetic knowledge? Which kind of model should be implemented? An aesthetic model does always involve a form of reductionism? What’s therelationship between model and theory in aesthetics?

Theory: Which kind of theory for aesthetic knowledge? Can we reduce aesthetic theory to perceptual theory? What’s the relationship between aesthetic theory and art criticism? Despite the modern segregation of scientific and aesthetic knowledge, could epistemologyof science be a model for aesthetics?



09.30-09.45 Opening of the Conference. Welcome.

Morning Session – Chair: Lorenzo Bartalesi (IMéRA Fellow)

09.45-10.45 Giuseppe Di Liberti (CEPERC, AMU/CNRS),
Les faits esthétiques entre monde, langage et perception. Problèmes de définition

10.45 Coffee break

11.00-12.00 Gregory Currie (University of York),
Aesthetics for archaeologists

12.00-13.00 Fabrizio Desideri (University of Firenze),
The aesthetic matrix of the cognitivity. First sketch of a new epistemic model for aesthetics

Afternoon Session – Chair: Pierre Livet (CEPERC, AMU/CNRS)

14.30-15.30 Jérôme Dokic (Institut Nicod, EHESS Paris),
Le rôle des émotions et sentiments épistémiques dans l’expérience esthétique

15.30-16.30 Bence Nanay (Antwerp University),
Mental imagery and top-down influences on the perception of artworks

16.30-16.45 Coffe break

16.45-17.45 Jean-Marie Schaeffer (CRAL, EHESS Paris),
Some thoughts about aesthetically oriented experience


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